After the Affair - A Guide for
Surviving Infidelity and Moving On
Are you struggling to work through an emotional meltdown after the
Do you call friends to vent, but end up feeling worse? Maybe they try cheerleading you toward a quick fix. Or,
they may point out why you're better off without your crummy ex - which only adds insult to injury.
At times, you might vow to stop talking about it altogether - but an hour later, the affair hits you in the face
While surviving infidelity isn't a simple process, you can
work through it. After the affair, you can deal with your worst emotions effectively and open your heart to
But much of your success depends on this simple desire: You have to want to succeed.
After the Affair - Be
We've all met people who never got over the hurt. Surviving infidelity means they'll discuss - with anyone
who'll listen - every detail of their bad experience for 20 years. After the affair, they stay stuck. They just
can't move on.
Surviving infidelity really gives you only two choices. You can grow bitter. Or, you can grow
better. To grow better, you must "grow" emotionally. Your goal should be to evolve into a stronger
person who can enjoy looking for exciting things ahead. And one of those things may include a new love.
Anyone slammed by a hurtful affair will need to grieve for weeks or months. But, with some individuals, their
scars remain visible and deep indefinitely. In surviving infidelity, they wear their pain like a second skin.
"I fantasized about tar-and-feathering him," says a women we'll call Angie who caught her ex with her best
friend. "But, bad thoughts start to show on your face! And who needs that?"
Surviving Infidelity by
Regaining Your Emotional Center
If you're in Angie's shoes, you can benefit by taking control of the healing process. At first, you'll spew
emotions like a volcano. That's normal and healthy. But, after awhile, surviving infidelity means learning to cool
those emotions and start looking for life's better moments.
Remember that you are entitled to "own" your feelings - just as they are. It's okay to cry, curse, and imagine
getting revenge right after the affair. But eventually - and this will take a lot of time to get there - you'll
especially want to cool extreme emotions.
After the affair, you'll likely have emotions that mess with your body chemistry. You'll want to work to stay
calm, expunge the pain appropriately, and get off that emotional roller coaster.
Your pain will start to subside and healing will begin when you examine the experience logically.
After the Affair -
Take Time to Think Objectively
Concentrate on "feeling less" and "thinking more." Make a list of the reasons the relationship wasn't working.
Were you mismatched in many areas? Did you come from two different worlds?
After the affair, there comes a time when you'll need to stop the blame game. You'll need to ask, "Was it really
either person's fault? Or, did circumstances beyond our control dictate how things went?"
Some psychologists say that a divorce doesn't happen by accident. They believe couples that divorce - especially
after many years of marriage - are mismatched in dozens of ways. For example, one may value socializing a lot. The
other spouse may be a confirmed homebody.
If you can envision a person walking with two different shoes on - perhaps a high heel on one foot and a tennis
shoe on the other - you can see why a mismatched love relationship is painful to manage. Eventually, one person
wants out. An affair can provide that escape.
If you can label your relationship problems more as being "mismatched," it's a lot easier to forgive. After the
affair, stop to consider this: Perhaps your cheating ex recognized the problems before you did. Did he or she
really do you a favor in the long run?
While You're Surviving
Acknowledge all the Good Things Too
A man we'll refer to as Jeff says he tried focusing on what was positive about the relationship, despite its
negative ending by way of an affair. "After the affair, I sat down and made a list of all the good things I
received from my ex. This wasn't easy. I had to think hard. But after the affair ended, I couldn't heal until I
stopped seeing the experience as a total waste."
In your plan for surviving infidelity and moving on, ask yourself questions along these lines: What were the
good times we enjoyed? Did I grow professionally or socially during our relationship?
Logically dwelling on all of the nice qualities you'd appreciate in a new "significant other" helps you push
into the future, too. Anticipating that a new love could show up helps you feel loveable - which is the exact
opposite of feeling victimized.
After the Affair -
Switch to a Less Reactive Mode
Your goal is to eventually feel more "neutral" toward your cheating partner. Feeling extreme hate, love, or
humiliation will keep you emotionally entangled with him or her. You cannot move on feeling this way after the
affair for too long.
Try these techniques to detach from the ordeal:
Remember to "respond" versus react. If you react to things continually, this throws you into a victim's role.
Start responding intelligently and thoughtfully to what's happened - versus giving a knee-jerk reaction.
Gradually pull back from all extreme emotions. You don't have to allow them. You're in charge of how much pain
you'll entertain as time goes on.
Eventually, take the high road. Refuse to stay down after the affair. For example, if you say, "I wish my ex all
of the luck in the world - however, I wish myself a little bit more luck," you're neutralizing bad feelings.
Stop revisiting old places connected with your ex. Don't drive by her apartment. Don't drive by his place of
Practice switching your focus. When painful memories come up, hum your favorite song or imagine a trip to the
beach. The mind can't focus on two things at once. Choose what to focus on.
More Tips for Surviving Infidelity
Focus on a Healthier Future
Let your friends know that you want to think about something else, so they'll cooperate. Start making plans to
socialize, exercise, and create a few exciting goals.
Also, think about the value of time. You cannot steal it, buy it, or borrow it. You can only spend it. So spend
it on yourself! Eventually, refuse to look back too much after the affair is over!
After the Affair -
Start Building New Friendships
Above all, make sure you are building relationships with same-sex pals. Working on friendships and social
relationships helps you practice relationship skills. Don't jump back into dating until you're sure you can manage
decent friendships with your own gender.
Remember, though, that friendships will never be totally free of problems. Friends do argue and make up. Or,
they can rub each other the wrong way occasionally.
Friendships help us in surviving infidelity by reminding us how to navigate within close relationships. We learn
where boundaries (each other's limits) lie. We learn how to ask for what we need.
Get Help Surviving Infidelity
and Talk to a Life Coach
If you have a lot of trouble asking for what you need, don't forget how valuable it is to work with a
professional. Surviving infidelity demands that you regain your confidence for new relationships with the opposite
sex. A Life Coach has special training and can
role-play with you. He or she can provide a "sounding board," so you'll learn how to speak up!
Friendships with same-sex pals or opposite sex pals help us learn to voice our limits. We can say yes to certain
things and no to others. With friends, we learn to make plans, honor commitments, say "no thanks" to certain
invitations, and communicate in ways we feel good about.
After the affair, friendships may become your new training ground. For example, try to acquire new pals to
practice how to get into brand new relationships. Experiment with saying hello to someone you envision as a step
above you socially or professionally. Don't overlook the value of a Life Coach if your relationship skills
are rusty or you're shy.
Start small. Consider inviting a nice neighbor over for a movie and popcorn. Or, stretch yourself. Join a civic
club just to rub elbows with the movers and shakers in your community.
A psychologist we'll call David says, "I often witness my clients eventually meeting great, new dating partners
when they have a solid group of friendships in place. With friends around, we aren't so needy while surviving
infidelity! So, we make better choices for dating partners. We date people we might not have noticed before. When
we grow, our taste in dating partners will change too."
After the Affair -
Keep Your Heart Open
One of the good things about having friends of the opposite sex - whom we're not dating intimately - is that
they help us feel there are men or women worth loving again. If you build walls around your heart, refusing to even
entertain falling in love again, this makes you feel you've lost something precious.
Having passion and respect for the opposite sex makes life worth living.
"When I caught my ex-husband cheating, I never did say I hated men, like some of my friends were saying," says a
nurse we'll call Sharon. "I have three brothers who are each wonderful."
After the affair involving her ex and his secretary, Sharon got back into the dating game within a year. She was
remarried within four years. Many of her friends, she says, are still alone.
"Your attitude governs your words," says Sharon. "Words you speak will affect how you think, feel, and project
yourself to others. Watch how you talk to yourself. Words do have power."
Laughter is Priceless in Surviving
Remember, too, that staying mentally healthy enough to love again requires not losing your sense of humor.
Laughter is a great antidote for anger and pain. Going to funny movies and comedy clubs, plus looking at the
lighter side of life, should be part of your weekly plans after the affair.
In surviving infidelity, it's easier to trust your own judgment if you develop a sense of humor. Staying overly
serious gives you a limited perspective on life. It may cause you to look at things too harshly.
After the Affair -
Change Yourself for the Better
In many ways, surviving infidelity changes you forever. However, try to direct many of those changes into
shaping you into a better person. Ask yourself: Am I someone I would enjoy knowing? If not, stop to reflect on how
you can become a person others would enjoy being around.
After the affair, decide that you truly want to grow into a more beautiful person. You can only do this if you
gradually entertain more beautiful thoughts and a balanced outlook on life.
When that happens, you'll begin to attract new people into your life - both friends and dating partners.
"Surviving infidelity should make each of us do a lot of self-scrutinizing," says a paramedic we'll call Ron.
"We need not let ourselves off the hook! I got dumped last year, but I've decided to work on myself. I know that I
need to listen more to women. I tend to block out conversations altogether when I'm tired. I want to improve in
Ron is certainly on the right track. Women find men who'll listen to them very desirable. Most of us, both men
and women, are definitely sensitive to words. So, when we absorb what others are saying, we are showing respect and
concern for them.
Surviving Infidelity Opens
Room for Your Star Power
After the affair, working on the new "self" we're trying to create actually becomes the exciting part of the
journey. A Professional Life Coach can assist you in
the steps to take.
Growing beyond the person we once were requires our taking on new goals and new challenges. A trained
professional can offer objective opinions in how to design a plan.
Using pain to grow and move into a new life is a lot like watching a great movie. But, in this case, we have the
power to write, direct, and star in that movie. With a good outlook, you can start to actually enjoy the process of
healing and moving on.
Surviving infidelity can send you down a new road of discovery. You'll can learn more about yourself, but you'll
also learn there are plenty of new people ready to reach out to you. Enable yourself with good support from
friends, but also consider the importance of working with a trained professional who can help make the healing
process go faster.
Relationship help is just a phone call
Website Content © 2016 Jay Reiss, M.S.W.